Lack of physical activity is fourth on the list of factors that contribute to death worldwide. (8) The good news is that you don’t need to go to the gym or come up with an intense exercise routine. Walking is probably the easiest form of physical activity that you can do. It’s a good habit to develop that will benefit your health now and in the future.
“Sitting Disease” and What Sitting Constantly Does to Your Body
Only 1 in every 3 adults reach the minimum recommended time spent exercising each week. (9) The predominance of a sedentary lifestyle contributes to a variety of health complications that many Americans are familiar with:
You may experience high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, if you exercise minimally or not at all. (5)
A study showed that adults who have low levels of activity, watch TV more than three hours per day, and don’t sleep well are more likely to be obese and overweight. (2)
A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to type 2 diabetes. (1) In fact, 27% of cases of diabetes are attributed to lack of exercise. In all these cases inactivity is estimated to be the main cause. (8)
Prolonged sitting causes inflammation and may worsen conditions that are characterized by inflammation such as rheumatoid arthritis. (3)
When you sit down for a long time, your posture affects your bones and muscles, especially your spine and respiratory system. (7)
The Benefits if Walking: Why You Should Commit to 10,000 Steps a Day
If changing your lifestyle is the goal, making realistic changes one at a time is the only way to achieve it. To counteract the all-around negative impact of inactivity, start simple! Set yourself a daily walking goal and stick to it diligently until it becomes a solidified habit. Use the principles of SMART goals:
Incorporating more steps is often a better approach towards staying fit for most people than buying a gym membership- not only is it free, but there are countless ways to seamlessly merge fitness throughout the day. Not to mention, taking every opportunity to walk and move more frequently has a number of significant health benefits:
Walking quickly makes you breathe faster. As a result, you use more oxygen and your heart beats faster making that oxygen reach your heart faster. (5)
Reduced risk of disease
An active lifestyle will benefit your health because it will reduce the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, colon and breast cancer and will make you less likely to fall. (8)
Health is not just about losing weight, but also about maintaining a healthy weight. Walking regularly will help you manage your weight. (8)
How to walk 10,000 steps without noticing
Don’t let the number scare you. It may seem like a lot of steps, but you can accomplish this goal if you combine walking with another activity. Here are some activities to try.
Take the stairs
If you live in an apartment building or your workplace has stairs, choose to take the stairs instead of the elevator. This is an activity that you can very easily incorporate into your daily routine and you don’t even have to go out of your way to do it.
Go for a walk during your break
Get up from your chair as soon as you get some free time during work. Your break is an excellent opportunity. If the weather is nice, go out and walk around the block. If not, try to walk as much as you can inside your place of work.
Watch TV or a movie on the treadmill
Sitting and watching TV for hours is definitely not good for your body. If you have a treadmill you can combine two activities: watch TV and keep yourself active at the same time.
Walk your dog
Walking your dog can be an opportunity for you to exercise. Go for a longer walk if your dog has the stamina and willingness for it.
Walk with company
Instead of sitting down to watch a movie after dinner, take your family for a walk. You could also invite a friend to walk together regularly. Conversation makes time fly and you can motivate each other.
Park as far away from a store entrance as possible
This might be hard to do, especially if you carry a lot of groceries, but chores are an easy way to incorporate physical activity into your day.
Take your children or grandchildren to play Pokémon Go
Pokémon Go has swept the world as people take their phone and go out to catch Pokémon in real life. If you don’t know what Pokémon Go is, all you need to know is that this game can motivate you to walk long distances, which can help prevent diabetes and obesity. (4) If any children in your family already play the game, make them happy and yourself healthier by taking them for a walk.
You can use a pedometer or even download an app on your phone to count your steps. A step-counting device will help you accomplish your goal through the day.
It’s important to note that for older adults and those living with chronic disease, 10000 steps may be an unrealistic goal. (6) You can start small and increase the number of your steps to a goal that is more realistic for you.
(1) Bouchard, C., Blair, S. N., Katzmarzyk, P. T. (November 2015). Less Sitting, More Physical Activity, or Higher Fitness? Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 90(11), 1533-40.
(2) Cassidy, S., Chau, J.Y., Catt, M., Bauman, A., Trenell, M.I. (April 28, 2017). Low physical activity, high television viewing and poor sleep duration cluster in overweight and obese adults; a cross-sectional study of 398,984 participants from the UK Biobank. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 14(1), 57.
(3) Fenton, S. A., Veldhuijzen van Zanten, J.J., Duda, J. L., Metsios, G. S., Kitas, G. D. (April 7, 2017). Sedentary behaviour in rheumatoid arthritis: definition, measurement and implications for health. Rheumatology (Oxford).
(4) Krittanawong, C., Aydar, M., Kitai, T. (April 17, 2017). Pokémon Go: digital health interventions to reduce cardiovascular risk. Cardiology in the Young, 1-2.
(5) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (September 10, 2015). How Is High Blood Pressure Treated?
(6) Tudor-Locke, C. & Bassett, D.R. Jr. (2004). How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health. Sports Medicine, 34(1), 1-8.
(7) Szczygieł, E., Zielonka, K., Mętel, S., Golec, J. (March 31, 2017). Musculo-skeletal and pulmonary effects of sitting position – a systematic review. Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine, 24(1), 8-12.
(8) World Health Organization. (n.d.) Physical Activity.